Thanks to a rain-shortened Monday, I felt good on the morning of this third day; and the weather cooperated for our first singles match, with a slight wind; but the low morning sun was an issue.
Before the morning matches, Roy Emerson gave a clinic on return of serve …
• You should strive to never, ever miss a return of serve when you can get your racquet on the ball (Emmo confessed he accomplished that feat only twice in his illustrious career)
• When facing a big server, respect the serve and shorten your backswing
• (Brian Gottfried) Returning the big server, the stroke is much a volley
• The return starts with the upper body turn; and if you have enough time, then move your feet to get into position
• If nothing else, just block the big serve back into play
• Given a second serve, really move in and attack the ball (but in play)
• The ready position should see you on the balls of your feet and ready to move forward
• You should never be leaning back on the return; but rather should be striving to be stepping INTO the shot (second choice is to move parallel to the baseline)
• If you are having trouble being aggressive on the return, stand back a few feet to give yourself more time and you can take a fuller swing
• You should have a return location in mind (given the serve location you anticipate)
Our team played against the Newk’s Kangaroos; while the Owen Davidson/Ross Case/Rick Leach Muscleman played the Fred Stolle/Dick Stockton/Brian Gottfried Dunnies. While I could possibly have played the #5 singles spot on our 19-man team, Emmo and Marty considered the opposition and put me at #6 vs. Marty Judge (who I bested two years ago in a nearly three-hour marathon) (pictured here).
Last time I had received conflicting scouting reports for Marty: two guys said play to his backhand and two said play to his forehand. My decision was made for me on the first point, when my return of serve went down the middle and Marty ran around to hit a backhand.
Sooooo, I played 85% of my serves and strokes to his forehand, which started out very erratic. As a result, the first set was closely played; but the score was in my favor 6-1.
In the second set, Marty settled down and stopped giving me a lot of free points. The critical game was him serving at 2-3, when we had a marathon game of at least ten deuces, with ads in and ads out. He survived the game and went on to win the second set 6-4.
But one of my favorite points during that second set loss was when we rallied and I drew him into the net with a drop shot. He barely got to it and then I lobbed over his head for a winner. My coach, Marty Reissen was watching outside the fence and said, “George, you are a cruel old man!”
With our match now over two hours old, players who had already completed their matches started gathering at our courtside for our deciding ten point tie breaker. Marty went up early and we switched sides with him leading 4-2. I regained the momentum and was serving 8-7. He won the next point for 8-8… I put in a good first serve for an 8-9 lead.
Newk comes onto the court to whisper coaching words to Marty and I just say to myself, “Makes no difference what he says to him, I am going to return serve.” I do and then I come to the net on a decent approach shot, while Marty’s match point lob sails just long. (6-1, 4-6, 10-8 in just under 2 ½ hours).
Our Wanker team came out on the winning side of four out of six match-deciding ten point tie breakers and had the lead after the morning’s play 9 matches to 7. At #4 singles, our Adin Levin was “Willyfied” by Mr. Hoffmann, 6-2, 6-2. (and Rich Tarantino outlasted Lenny Salzman in a three-hour marathon for the other two teams this morning).
In the afternoon, Newk really juggled his lineup, moving good players all up and down the slots. I teamed with Tom Mackessey (Ohio and Naples) vs. friend, crafty lefty and well-known tennis writer Joel Drucker and Kangaroo rookie, John Radin.
I played the first set in the deuce court and found it almost impossible to return the righty’s serve, which was a wicked side spin that took me into the NEXT COURT to retrieve. I tried everything from standing in the alley, to standing halfway in toward the service line, to both… but nothing worked. They won the first set 6-2.
In the second set, my partner and I switched return sides. While we did somewhat better getting that serve back in play, lefty Joel Drucker served and returned exceptionally well. And they cruised to a 6-2, 6-0 victory.
Our team ended up losing three out four of the “top” doubles matches; but our lower numbered doubles teams saved the day. Great matches to watch, especially our Terry Long and Tom Sansonetti winning a 10 point tie breaker to seal the day – and a victory over Newk’s Kangaroos.
With my losing such a quick doubles match, the silver lining was I had energy to participate in Emmo’s 5 p.m. clinic (where he regularly shouted, “Let’s move that 70 year old body better!”
Tomorrow, winners play losers; so we will face the Owen Davidson Musclemen; while Newk’s Kangaroos play the Stolle/Stockton Dunnies, who had to win the last six matches in the afternoon, which they did for a 13-12 match victory.
Dinner was Italian night, followed by a laugh-filled Legend panel discussion, with Emmo, Davo, and Stolle telling stories from the tours early days.
Then it was off to bed and a night’s rest getting for round two of the team singles and doubles matches on Wednesday.